Sometimes the homeschool blogging world is a great help, and sometimes it becomes something else… a place where we compare our children to others. And, I think a bit unrealistically, it seems everyone else’s child knows more than “my” child.
M is not a great counter. This strikes me and others as somewhat odd since he has the mind of a little engineer and/or scientist. But he can only count to 13 consistently; he tries to count to 20, and then if he means a larger number he just says “forty-eighty-ninety”. :) He is a bright boy and he’s interested in many things – like how the world and everything in it works. Evidently, he just can’t be bothered with something small like learning numbers right now. ;)
If I thought he needed to know how to count to 100 by the time he was 4 I’d be driving myself and him crazy. I’m perfectly fine with his limitations and don’t worry about it (not that I haven’t been tempted to push him just a little in this area after reading other blogs), but I know others out there do worry about these things. There are mothers who read our blogs, and being wonderful mommies who want the best for their child, start wondering what they should be doing. I know this because occasionally I get an email from a worried mom asking me what she needs to do. I am so thankful in those cases that I have a normal, average boy and can offer her a little encouragement and reassurance. Learning at this age should be all about FUN. *In the middle of drafting this post, my friend Monica sent me a link to a great article about just this – keeping it simple! It’s well worth the read.
The truth is a 4 year old doesn’t really need to count that high, or read on his own, or any other advanced academic skill. M is not out looking for a job or even doing elementary homework yet. By the time he needs a particular skill he will have it, I’m sure of it. He’s busy learning about what interests him in the meantime, and there is nothing that will spur on learning like a genuine interest in something.
That said, I’ve noticed in the past 2 weeks that he is beginning to take a real interest in counting to higher numbers. His dot-to-dot book, which he adores, has helped grow this interest. Our calendar helps a bit too. And nothing, absolutely nothing, has helped spur that interest on more than the little digital watch he got at Burger King. Oh goodness, this kid wants to know what that watch says every minute of every day. 9:08 is one thing, but what in the world is 12:35? He simply has to know. :)
We’ve just started doing “school” this week and I plan on using Montessori bead bars and number boards to aid in counting and other math skills. I am by no means any kind of expert on Montessori. I am just beginning to learn a little bit about Montessori. My interest began when looking for ways to further M’s religious education, in fact… and here we are talking about math. :) I think this will be a good journey for both M and I!
Anyway, for those of you who are interested, a great explanation of a simple Montessori bead bar exercise is here. You’ll note the recommended age for beginning this work is 4.5. Whew!
I made my own bead bars, using pipe cleaners and pony beads. Simply twist a pipecleaner at one end, making a little loop. Then slide on your pony beads. Each number has a different color – 1 is red, 2 is green, etc. After sliding on the appropriate color and number of beads, cut your pipecleaner, leaving a little bit at the end to twist into another loop. So far I’ve made 2 of each bar from 1 to 9, and 20 golden (in this case, clear with gold glitter) 10-bead bars. This should get us pretty far in our lessons. These took about an hour to make one afternoon. I’ve also made my own number cards and teen board, and then found them already online in a printable version on this site. Go to the middle of the page to find the link for printing Teen and Ten boards.
Have a beautiful day! :)